Smooth start to Singapore's first pre-event Covid-19 screening; only three new Covid-19 cases on Monday (Oct 26)


Participants getting tested for Covid-19 with Antigen Rapid Tests at the start of Singapore International Energy Week 2020. - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

SINGAPORE, Oct 26 (The Straits Times/ANN): The opening of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2020 on Monday (Oct 26) saw the first ever pre-event Covid-19 swabbing taking place.

A pilot run of pre-event testing using Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) was earlier announced by the multi-ministry task force on Oct 20.

At the time, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that a successful pilot run might contribute towards a loosening of group size caps for social gatherings.

But he cautioned that the tests, which are less sensitive than the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests used conventionally, may not be able to catch every single Covid-19 case and that safe distancing measures would still need to be observed.

Meanwhile, there were only three new Covid-19 cases confirmed as at noon on Monday (Oct 26), taking Singapore's total to 57,973.

There were two imported cases who had been placed on stay-home notices on arrival in Singapore, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday.

There were no new community cases but there was one case from a worker's dormitory.

On Sunday (Oct 25), it waqs also confirmed that the two new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases confirmed on Sunday were migrant workers living in dormitories.

One was tested when he developed acute respiratory infection symptoms while the other was asymptomatic and detected through the routine testing of workers living in dormitories.

There were only three new Covid-19 cases confirmed as at noon on Monday (Oct 26), taking Singapore's total to 57,973 on Monday (Oct 26). - The Straits Times/Asian News NetworkThere were only three new Covid-19 cases confirmed as at noon on Monday (Oct 26), taking Singapore's total to 57,973 on Monday (Oct 26). - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

As for Monday's (Oct 26) energy event, When The Straits Times arrived at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, where SIEW 2020 is being held, on Monday morning, there were no long queues or crowds typically associated with Mice (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) events.

Signs were present on various levels at the centre reminding participants to download the TraceTogether app.

TraceTogether tokens were provided free of charge at the entrance to the hall where the event was being held. The Straits Times was told that participants were allowed to keep the tokens.

After checking in with SafeEntry and having their temperature taken, participants entered a main hall where they were separated into different zones for swabbing.

Each zone had its own set of swabbing stations and screening registration counter, where participants received a confirmation SMS from the Health Ministry (MOH), and a set of labels for their tests.

They were then seated at a swabbing station, where a swabber explained the testing process and carried out the procedure.

Participants had a swab stick inserted about 2.5cm up their nostrils and twirled several times, and then told to wait for the results, which were sent via SMS.

The seats for testing were wiped down and sanitised after each test.

People were not stopped from mingling with one another while waiting for their results in the main hall, but had to present their results to a check-in counter before they were given their badges and allowed to enter the ballroom where the speeches were taking place.

Within the ballroom, guests were seated at tables of no more than five people, separated into different zones, and had to keep their masks on.

Eight safe distancing ambassadors were also present to ensure safe management measures, such as the wearing of masks and ensuring that everyone remained a metre apart from each other.

Around 215 tests were carried out on Monday, and most people appeared to have no issues with them. No one tested positive.

"I think it's bearable and quite fast and the (swabber) was very gentle. I'm quite happy with it, I worried for nothing," said senior vice-president of Solar Singapore and South East Asia (Energy Division) at Sembcorp Solar Singapore, Jen Tan.

She added: "I was prepared for the worst because my friends told me it's really uncomfortable and terrible - but I thought the (ART) swab was tiny, so it was bearable."

Vice-president at Sembcorp Eddie Tan said he found the experience smooth and relatively pleasant. "I wouldn't say it was comfortable, but it wasn't bad... I was almost on the verge of sneezing or tearing, but it didn't trigger it." - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

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